Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Henry Poole Is Here - Swimming In Spirituality

This is a sleeping giant of a film, that deserves a giant wake up call. It has the potential to launch a few rising stars and revive the careers of some cinematic veterans.

Luke Wilson, who has the good looks and acting chops to be a leading man, hasn't really had the opportunity to shine in many of his roles. But in this film directed by Mark Pellington ( Arlington Road, Mothman Prophecies) Wilson is given the center stage spotlight. Henry Poole (Wilson) is a man troubled by news that he is about to die.

As sort of personal gesture to himself, Henry decides to return to the neighborhood where he grew up, in order to put his personal affairs in order before he departs. His plan was to buy the house he grew up in, but must settle for a neighboring house down the street. Which becomes the blessing and bane of his remaining life. Shortly after moving in, the realtor has a wall outside his home re-stuccoed, and a rather remarkable phenomenon occurs soon after in the form of a water stain.

A nosey, neurotic and very spiritually misguided neighbor Esperanza played by Adrianna Barraza, discovers the stain in the stucco and becomes convinced it is the face of God. She begins a crusade to convince Henry it is a miracle and a sign from God. Henry wants nothing to do with God, miracles or his wall being turned into a shrine. Thus becomes the basis for this spiritual divided plot.

Sort of poised in the middle of this ecclesiatical conflict are two characters, a level headed priest played by George Lopez and Henry's next door neighbor ( Radha Mitchell) whose daughter is withdrawn into herself, and unwilling to speak a word to anyone.

These characters one by one slowly draw Henry out and force him to at least accept the fact that faith can be a powerful thing. The more he resists the more the miraculous and unexplainable seem to plague him and force him to see the light.

It is a very profound and touching film, and Luke Wilson delivers a rather heartfelt performance. As does the rest of the cast. George Lopez is starting to reinvent himself as an actor, and I am certain this film will do for him and Luke Wilson , what Pulp Fiction did for John Travolta and Samuel Jackson.

But the most surprising performance comes from the little girl Millie played by Morgan Lily. It is amazing how a young actor such as Morgan can deliver such powerful performances at such a young age. But I see great things in her future, and I would predict she is someone Hollywood will be keeping a close eye on.

And to balance this stirring film out is yet another killer soundtrack, including the memorable song "On an Ocean" by Lisa Gerrard, which was featured in Ridley Scott's epic " Gladiator". I would recommend renting this and at the very least buying the soundtrack. It is a very light hearted and moving film.


  1. Enjoyed your review. I must see this 'sleeping giant'. Thanks Greg.

  2. Great review! Glad to know people out there have found this film - I encourage you to check out the recently released family version. I absolutely loved this movie! It was such a great story about a real life guy who was struggling with his faith and accepting it. This is something that I've been struggling with myself for the past couple of years. It was such an encouragement to see this played out. And it's really cool that I've found a site, http://www.henrypoolebelieves.com. Right now it looks like they are giving away 10 copies of the movie for free. If you haven't seen the movie yet, or even if you have, you could always give it to a friend, but it's definitely worth checking out! PERFECT film for a FAMILY movie night!